Why Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Gloucester PTO’s “Don Trump” Gravestone

In Gloucester, Massachusetts last week, the parent-teacher organization hosted a Halloween themed fundraiser at West Parish Elementary School.   One of the parents was thoughtful enough to bring a bean bag toss game that featured fake tombstones. One of them had the familiar name “Don Trump” on it. Hilarious! And so clever…

Surprisingly, at least to the thoughtful parents and the host who didn’t have the sense to say, “Cute! But you know we can’t display that…”, not everyone present, even in the Bluer than Blue Bay State of my birth, revels in the thought of the President of the United States dying in office.  Several  parents took photos of the fun game, and sent them to Massachusetts Republican Party committeewoman Amanda Orlando Kesterson, who shared one of the them on Facebook along with a searing post, which read in part,

“I find it absolutely despicable that the PTO of one of our local elementary schools would bring this political agenda before our children. The parents or teachers responsible for this disgusting display should claim responsibility publicly and apologize publicly as well. … We should teach our children that the office of the president ALWAYS deserves respect. Our school system is not the place for nasty political agendas.”

One question that puzzles me: did they object to the fundraiser organizers before sending the photos? That would be the ethical course. There’s nothing wrong with ring those ethics alarms by hand if they are stuck.

After the controversy erupted into the news media, the school principal, Dr. Telena Imel, apologized in a letter to parents, saying

“Intentionally or not, it inappropriately brought a political agenda into what was designed to be a fun family affair. Our school, and this includes school events sponsored by related groups, is not the place for politics. In planning future events, it will be made clear to organizers that school is not the place to engage in or to display political agendas or opinions.”

Oh, I think it’s fair to conclude that it was intentional.

The parents responsible for the  game  apologized, as did Gloucester’s mayor, who said in a statement, “The City of Gloucester does not condone political messaging within our schools.”

There is no other way to describe this incident except as a mass ethics alarms malfunction, one that is overwhelmingly afflicting Democrats. (Okay, one more question: Did any Democratic-leaning parents see what was wrong with the Dead Donald reference?) I am old enough to remember the assassination of Jack Kennedy, a Massachusetts native son. I can’t imagine anyone in my state not recoiling at any hint of a casual or satirical reference to another President’s death, even Nixon, and Mass was the only state that voted for George McGovern.

We almost had another assassination  when two crazy women took shots at Gerald Ford, and then one more near miss, when a sick Jodie Foster fan somehow thought killing Ronald Reagan would entrance her. When did this ethics alarm get broken, and how? The gravestone of the current President being presented as an appropriate Halloween decoration in an event with children present? Hosted by a parent-teacher organization? No alarms? Not even faint ringing? In Massachusetts, where everyone once knew “Abraham, Martin and John” by heart?

The alarms didn’t ring in part because teachers began thinking that indoctrinating children in their own political views became accepted practice during the Bush administration, as schools started showing Al Gore’s climate change agitprop in class. The Bush administration wasn’t behind the trend, but the Obama administration encouraged it, especially during the Post Sandy Hook anti-gun freak-out. Teachers were punishing kids for finger guns and biting pizza and pop tarts into pistol shapes even before that.

Still, the “It’s not good citizenship to joke about killing the President” alarm was functioning even if the “Don’t indoctrinate kids in partisan politics” clapper had been covered in bubble-wrap. Then the nation’s voters had the audacity to reject an awful, corrupt and dishonest Democratic Party candidate whose campaign had included calling anyone who opposed her a sexist, and anyone who voted for her opponent as “deplorable,” as well as promising that she carry on the policies of that wonderful President who had so thoroughly divided the nation in eight years that someone like Donald Trump—well, not just like him, but him— had been nominated to run against her. Suddenly the very same people who had lectured Trump and Trump supporters about how in the U.S., after an election, no matter how contentious, good citizens always put down their placards and unite behind the winner, validating and honoring American democracy and the wisdom of the people and our system of selecting leaders, did a back somersault reminiscent of Nadia Comanici her prime, and declared, in demonstrations and boycotts and calls for various means of undoing the election,  that this President didn’t deserve that deference and respect.

Then various voices in the party made vague and not so vague references to how nice it would be if someone “took out” the President. (That’s Maxine Waters’ term.) After the Charlottesville riots, Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal—I wonder what party she belongs to?–went on her personal Facebook and said to a commenter, “I hope Trump is assassinated!”

The main pro-Trump death chorus, however, came from that saintly community that is always doing yeoman service as the culture’s moral exemplar, the entertainment business—you know, where Harvey Weinstein and the cool, beautiful, progressive people hang out. Madonna told an audience, “Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. But I know this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair.” Johnny Depp told another throng, “This is going to be in the press and it’ll be horrible. But I like that you are all a part of it. When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?” Rapper Snoop Dogg remixed  “Lavender” by Canadian band BadBadNotGood adding a clown-clad version of President Trump called Ronald Klump, and showed him being  shot with a toy gun.

Last summer, New York’s acclaimed Public Theater staged a version of William Shakespeare’s ” Julius Caesar” in  Central Park with the crowd-pleasing gimmick of portraying Julius Caesar as a Trump clone. The audience cheered as he was assassinated in an on-stage blood bath. And, lest we forget, there was this:

All in good fun, of course!

Thus are once functioning ethics alarms silenced.

Now read the comments to Ms Kesterson’s Facebook post.

20 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

20 responses to “Why Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Gloucester PTO’s “Don Trump” Gravestone

  1. crella

    In Massachusetts, of all places…you’re absolutely right, Jack.

  2. Glenn Logan

    This is my favorite reply on Facebook to the post you linked:

    Fred Arnaud – Yeah. The first amendment suck at time right? Get over it. This is not an agenda. It teach or kids to love the country and fear, dislike the gouvernement. A gouvernement that disrespect its citizen(or not) should not be respected back. [my emphasis]

    This person’s profile says he “Studies at Salem State University,” where, judging from this comment, English is only taught phonetically with no regard for grammar, and apparently isn’t a requirement from whatever high school he attended.

    There is no other way to describe this incident except as a mass ethics alarms malfunction, one that is overwhelmingly afflicting Democrats. (Okay, one more question: Did any Democratic-leaning parents see what was wrong with the Dead Donald reference?) I am old enough to remember the assassination of Jack Kennedy, a Massachusetts native son. I can’t imagine anyone in my state not recoiling at any hint of a casual or satirical reference to another President’s death, even Nixon, and Mass was the only state that voted for George McGovern.

    I have to wonder, the next time a Democrat is elected president (and that will happen eventually), what will the response on the right be? Will it be to “punch back twice as hard” as a certain recent president who will remain nameless exhorted his followers to do?

    This has to end somewhere. There’s no way this kind of hostility can continue for a decade, or even two presidential terms without some kind of reckoning.

    • “I have to wonder, the next time a Democrat is elected president (and that will happen eventually), what will the response on the right be?”

      The Right? They’ll merely oppose policy, and the Leftist media will melt down and spin in outrage as though someone had called for an assassination.

  3. ”This has to end somewhere. There’s no way this kind of hostility can continue for a decade, or even two presidential terms without some kind of reckoning.”

    With kids like the talented Sean Taylor in the pipeline, what are the chances of that happening?

    Hostility combined with epic stupidity do not a good combination make.

    When (ABC Nightline host Dan) Harris rightly noted to Taylor that his opposition to (Ben) Shapiro’s speech “doesn’t really comport with the First Amendment,”

    Sean Taylor: “I don’t care.”

    “You don’t care?” Harris asked in shock.

    Taylor: “I don’t care,”

    Harris: “Why not?”

    Taylor: ”I don’t think that’s a, like, relevant document right now,”

    Like, you know, what an effin’ moron!

    A devastating (IMHO) takedown of Taylor is deftly delivered in a one paragraph lambasting by Chris Pandolfo.

    https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/true-colors-student-leader-says-1a-doesnt-apply-to-ben-shapiro

  4. Chris

    Were I a teacher at this school, this would have set off my Ethics Alarms.

  5. Other Bill

    Can you imagine the fury and outrage if there had been an Obama grave stone in a school eight or nine years ago? But hey, “Trump!”

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      I might have slipped a Hussein one in, then I could just say it was Saddam Hussein and have plausible deniability.

    • ”Can you imagine the fury and outrage if there had been an Obama grave stone in a school eight or nine years ago?”

      Precedent exists, kinda, in none other than the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality on 10/29/2017.

      Halloween weekend is historically wild here to begin with, but was dialed up another several orders of magnitude with the U.W. FB team (GO BADGERS!!) taking on the Cornhuskers in a night game at venerable Camp Randall Stadium.

      (Bucky outlasted ’em in OT 23-17)

      One yahoo was dressed up in prison garb with Obama & HRC heads inside a noose and another in a Trump mask.

      They were allowed to stay, but had to remove their costumes.

      Needless to say, local, state, national, & some international) Lefties went absolutely apoplectically apeshit.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/wisc-football-fan-asked-remove-obama-mask-noose-article-1.2850584

      One more thing (snort) the raaaaaaaaaaaaaaacist noose holder (heh) & his pal (snicker) were Bernie supporters.

      BBBBAAAWWWWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

      • It was covered in an Ethics Alarms post. But that was at a college football stadium, not an elementary school, it was typical street theater, and not at all clear that the thing wasn’t pro-Obama.

      • Other Bill

        I’d forgotten about that. I’m sure there were other incidents that were covered til the cows came home. (Even in non-dairy states.)

  6. Johnny Depp told another throng, “This is going to be in the press and it’ll be horrible. But I like that you are all a part of it. When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?”

    Gee, how did that turn out for us? Or does he perhaps think that was a good thing?

    • dragin_dragon

      Given that it was Johnny Depp, I’d guess that he doesn’t know several things: that Lincoln was assassinated, that John Wilkes Booth did it or that JWB was, in fact, an actor.

  7. Alex

    I’m going off on a tangent here… The reaction and expectations to a presidential tomb in an elementary school Halloween celebration would have been completely unremarkable to me years ago. Mostly because I grew up with it. 🙂
    In Mexico, the traditional celebration is Día de Muertos, just two days after Halloween (Oct. 31 being coincidentally my parent’s anniversary). On this day, besides the usual offerings to the dead, we mock Death itself, and invite her into our homes by making pretend tombstones of ourselves, family members and celebrities de jour. Also, mocking poems known as Calaveras are written, chronicling the deaths (almost always ironical) of public figures: journalists, politicians, actors, etc. One would easily expect and not even bat an eye at something like saying McCain would die because he couldn’t be admitted on time at a public hospital, or even something as crude as saying that Obama would be run over a truck in the middle of the night after he stopped smiling (racist as fuck, but then again, Mexicans relationship with race is very different than Americans).
    Not much of a point really, but as someone straddling between two cultures with one foot on each, I find these differences fascinating.

    • Other Bill

      Caramba! Maybe the parent is a member of a Mexican family that moved to Glostah to work in the fishing fleet! Dios mio!

      • Alex

        Make him a Trump voter and now you have the premise of a sitcom.

        • Other Bill

          My deceased father in law could be added in. Looked and talked like the Gorton’s fisherman. From Somerville. A pipe fitter. He could spout more idiosyncratic New Englandisms than you could shake a stick at.

  8. When I was growing up, my father worked for the VA and we consequently moved around a lot. In 1968 we moved to Massachusetts (from Texas — talk about a culture shock).

    My folks did all the customary things when moving to a new town — like registering the cars, new driver’s license, register to vote. Alas, they were told that they were not allowed to vote in Massachusetts. Yes, I am serious. As it happened we weren’t allowed to vote because we lived on the VA grounds (when we asked why not, we got all sorts of explanations but my favorite was ‘because Massachusetts is a Commonwealth and not a state’).

    As it turns out, this was perhaps legal — on researching the matter I found an early 19th century law that seemed to apply. This was aimed at soldiers stationed in Massachusetts from voting in local elections — but, of course, those soldiers could vote in their home state. We had no ‘home state’ other than Massachusetts.

    Of course, since we lived in Massachusetts (and weren’t soldiers), we had to pay Massachusetts income taxes. Truly taxation without representation — in Massachusetts of all places. Somehow our local officials failed to see the irony in that situation. Our putative Congressional representatives (Ted Kennedy, Edward (?) Brooke, and Sylvio Conte) were unresponsive.

    So that was my great experience with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Never had a problem voting before or since, even living on the VA grounds. I would also add that the high school there (we were in western Massachusetts) in my opinion was pretty sorry compared to the one we attended in Waco.

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